Qatar: UN negotiations on Afghanistan start without Taliban

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Taliban representatives won’t be present in UN-sponsored negotiations starting on Monday in Qatar about how to deal with Afghanistan’s leaders and pressure them to lift a ban on women working and girls attending school.

Representatives from roughly 25 nations and NGOs, including those from the US, China, and Russia as well as significant European aid contributors and important neighbours like Pakistan, have been invited to the two days of negotiations by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

However, the Taliban government was not invited, and prior to the meeting, there was much discussion about whether to recognize the government.

A tiny group of Afghan women organized a protest march over the weekend in Kabul to reject any efforts to commemorate the leaders who took back control in August 2021.

A coalition of Afghan women’s organisations said they were “outraged” that any nation would explore official ties in an open letter to the Doha summit published on Sunday. They cited the government’s track record of treating women’s rights as “an internal social issue” and its record of doing so.

Recognition is not on the table, according to the United Nations and the US.

Amina Mohammed, the UN’s deputy secretary-general, stated last month that the Doha summit would result in “baby steps” that lead to a “principled recognition” of the Taliban administration, which has increased the anxieties of rights organisations.

The UN said that the remarks were misconstrued. No nation has formally connected with the Taliban government, and the UN General Assembly alone has the authority to decide whether a country will be included.

The discussion “is intended to achieve a common understanding within the international community on how to engage with the Taliban” about women’s and girls’ rights, inclusive governance, combatting terrorism, and drug trafficking, according to Guterres’ office before his arrival in Doha.